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Thread: The abandoned farmhouse thread

  1. #1

    The abandoned farmhouse thread

    I've been taking pictures of abandoned and barely habitable farmhouses in my area during the past few months. I want to get as many as possible before they all are demolished. Some of these are already gone.

    It's one thing if the house is abandoned and left to the elements, quite another if it's demolished for new subdivsions. Quite a few of these are being demolished (or have been demolished) for sprawl.


    Fulton County





    Near Hudson, MI




    Clayton, MI



    Near Adrian



    Riga Township



















    Blissfield Township





    Richfield Township





    Sylvania Township




    Perrysburg Township








    Rossford


    Hessville


    Henry County




    Swanton Twp.




    Spencer Twp.




    Monclova Twp.





    Waterville Twp.




    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 26 Sep 2005 at 8:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Laudable documentary/archival effort.

    I noticed there are some brick buildigns and even some of the englected wooden structures look fairly solid. Why not renovate them? It seems so wasteful to build new ones from scratch.

    I guess the attitude to built form / urban form is probably the one thing I always found the most antithetical to my views in the US.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    That's a very evocative set of pics. I've always thought old farmhouses are poignant symbols of loneliness and isolation. They also remind you of their past life, all the generations that grew up there, the kids that ran through its halls...now abandoned to mice and spiders. Some of those scenes are worthy of an Andrew Wyeth or Edward Hopper painting.

    I was shooting a lot of old farmhouses and barns years ago. I should scan some and post. I often find myself around old farms in my work. Occasionally you will hear of a farmhouse being preserved and moved or actually incorporated into a new developement in the form of a community building or something, but usually they are just demolished.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Such beautiful despair.

    Nice set, SAC.

    I particularly like that you photographed them in winter (I presume). It just adds to the sadness and preceived loneliness of the images. If you had taken them in the summer, they would have looked like majestic ruins (akin to 16th century images of Roman ruins) rather than the desperate discards of 20th century technology and "progress".
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Next time I go up to the UP I will take some pictures for you. There are tons of them up there.

    I would like to see some type of salvage effort made for some of those structures. The older ones have some amazing woodwork that might be salvageable, and some of the beams used in barn construction have wood that can be re-cut and are far better than a lot of the high quality lumber today.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  6. #6
    Nice photos, SAC. Have you done any research on the "T-form" plan that seems so prevalent in these images? It's not a very prevalent form here in southern Indiana -- we most commonly see the I-House (common to Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, hence the name).
    Je suis Charlie

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Great set of pictures. Thanks.

    I used to work as a field archaeologist in eastern Wyoming several years ago and we did some work on some abandoned homesteads out there... beautiful, but lonely. If ever there are places in the world that are haunted, its old homesteads and farmhouses on the plains.

  8. #8
         
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    Great photos but quite sad. These places do feel haunted when you visited them. You can't help but think of the families that took shelter in these homes for the past 8 to 10 decades. You might think about donating copies to a local archive so future generations has some idea of what was lost. I took a back road tour across western Kansas this summer. There are small towns there that look much like these farm houses. Once proud stone and brick commercial buildings are falling into ruins onto broken sidewalks. Whole downtowns are boarded-up. One would think these buildings could be rehabed until you look at the local economy and study the population loss of these rural areas. No one is left but the elderly and a few farm workers and farm service workers. All the young people have moved to Kansas City or Denver (me included). Some counties in the Great Plains has only a fourth or less population compared to 100 years ago. A great book that documents these changes in eastern Montana is by a Brit, Jonathan Raban, in his book "Bad Land".

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Laudable documentary/archival effort.

    I noticed there are some brick buildigns and even some of the englected wooden structures look fairly solid. Why not renovate them? It seems so wasteful to build new ones from scratch.
    .
    Many are located in fringe areas of the suburbs and the land is now being subdivided into housing tracts and condos. I found three farmhouses, two shown below, within a half-mile of each other that were vacant and no doubt being razed for new houses.



    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    That's a very evocative set of pics. I've always thought old farmhouses are poignant symbols of loneliness and isolation. They also remind you of their past life, all the generations that grew up there, the kids that ran through its halls...now abandoned to mice and spiders. Some of those scenes are worthy of an Andrew Wyeth or Edward Hopper painting.

    I was shooting a lot of old farmhouses and barns years ago. I should scan some and post.
    Please feel free to add them here. After all, this is called "The Abandoned farmhouse Thread"

    I often find myself around old farms in my work. Occasionally you will hear of a farmhouse being preserved and moved or actually incorporated into a new developement in the form of a community building or something, but usually they are just demolished.

    True, they just bulldoze them into oblivion. But it wasn't always this way. In the 1910s and 1920s, many areas of West Toledo that were previously dairy farms were turned into large residential plats to keep up with the enourmous growth that was taking place in the area. One such plat, Homeville, was put together with a patchwork of three or four farms. At least three of the old farmhouses were preserved and incorporated into the addition, albiet they were modernized and realigned to the new street that they now had frontage on.

    In another plat nearby, the farmhouse, shown below, was also retained. What's diffrerent here is that the developers even kept the original alignment (parallel to the old section road but perpendicular to the new street it now fronted on.

    The house was set so far back from the old section road that one couldn't even see it anymore from that road when newer houses were built around it during the 1910s and 1920s. It's somewhat jarring to see this old brick homestead on a street of much later homes but at least it was preserved.



    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 27 Sep 2005 at 11:39 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Such beautiful despair.

    Nice set, SAC.

    I particularly like that you photographed them in winter (I presume). It just adds to the sadness and preceived loneliness of the images. If you had taken them in the summer, they would have looked like majestic ruins (akin to 16th century images of Roman ruins) rather than the desperate discards of 20th century technology and "progress".
    Thanks, Mendle. Actually most were taken in the late winter or early Spring, just after I got my digital camera. I like taking pictures in the winter too, not only for the reasons you mention, but because so many of these houses would be obscured by foilage by summer.



    The above picture for instance, was taken in the summer and the ruins are obscured by trees. If the house (or remaining wall, rather) is still standing, I'll go back up there and reshoot this winter.

    Quote Originally posted by michalskis
    Next time I go up to the UP I will take some pictures for you. There are tons of them up there.
    Please do, I would love to see them!

    We were up in the northern L. P. just last month, but I couldn't find my digital camera before we left for vacation. I'm still pulling my hair out realizing how many old farmsteads I passed by and was not able to document, some of which will no doubt be gone next time I ever get up there.

    I would like to see some type of salvage effort made for some of those structures. The older ones have some amazing woodwork that might be salvageable, and some of the beams used in barn construction have wood that can be re-cut and are far better than a lot of the high quality lumber today.
    I agree completely, but the developers are only interested in fresh and new and would just as soon put these things into the landfill. Never mind that the new pop-and-fresh subdivisions will probably last only a third as long as these grand old homes that they are replacing would have lasted had they not met such an early demise.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I could take oodles of similar images here, too, especially in nearby southern Waupaca County.

    BTW, the house in the 16th image from the top looks to me like it is being re-enovated.

    Also, many main streets here in Appleton (Mason St north of Wisconsin Av is a great example) have most of their old farmhouses still intact and occupied, surrounded by the newer houses that came later as the city grew after WWII.

    FASCINATING images, too. Someday, I want to spend a few weeks roadtripping throughout the upper Great Plains just to explore some of the kewl ghost towns that dot that area.

    Mike

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Nice photos, SAC. Have you done any research on the "T-form" plan that seems so prevalent in these images? It's not a very prevalent form here in southern Indiana -- we most commonly see the I-House (common to Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, hence the name).
    I have not done any specific research on the T-Plan or Gabled Ell house type in relation to settlement patterns of farms. The builders seemed to be emulating what was popular at the time, as these house types were also common on Toledo city lots as well. The farmhouses were designed much like their city counterparts, but usually larger for having not been confined to narrow city lots.

    Most were built during the period from ca 1875 to 1895 and definately started to fade from popularity after 1900 as the Foursquare grew in prominance. There are also many Gable Front and Wing houses in this area (such as the very first photo). These houses are older and not much survives in the City, although there are still quite a few in the surrounding rural areas. They seem much more prone to alteration than the T-Plan and I wouldn't be surprised if they had three or four layers of siding on them.

    There were never many I-Houses around here. I found evidence of a couple of them that once existed in the City (but were later added to and modernized, like in the photo below), but so far I have not seen one true I-House my photodocumenting
    journey.

    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 27 Sep 2005 at 12:01 PM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    I could take oodles of similar images here, too, especially in nearby southern Waupaca County.
    Please do



    BTW, the house in the 16th image from the top looks to me like it is being re-enovated.
    If you're taking about the white one with all the windows removed, it is actually being demolished, I'm fairly certain. . There is a new house in the back of the lot and they are in the process of taking this one down by hand, it seems.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    The photos you've taken are interesting to us now, and will definately make people sad in the future, when none of these great structures are left. You can see from these photos that many of the homes still have potential - they can be saved now, but won't have that option within a year or so. (Some of those roofs look amazingly straight.)
    I also have did a photography project on abandoned farm houses several years ago (in Central NY). I'll have to take some time to digitize them and add them to the thread. Here, in the midst of the native american land claims, many of the old farms were bought up by the Indians and then fell silent - demolition by neglect. It breaks my heart to see old homes like this - many of these buildings were build MUCH more soundly than what's replacing them.
    And looking at the photos, I have to wonder what story these homes have to tell. Several of the abandoned farmhouses I went into looked as if the people had left for the day, and then just never returned. One house had toys and dishes in the kitchen. One barn had bags of seed in a wheelbarrel, with an instruction book lying open on top. Makes you wonder -- what happened??
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    A friend of mine lives in an old farmhouse. He lived next door to it for years and when the family came upon hard times they sold it to him. The farm was long ago subdivided for single family homes and is in the middle of West Plains, MO. It is a beautiful old house, with marvelous hardwood floors and large, airy rooms.

    Wonderful pictures. The kind of neglected places you see all over the country. It is a shame they rot away, because so many of the structures are of a design we no longer build. Simple but also handsome and obviously sturdy.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Great thread.
    I will try to contribute as well. We constantly survey old farmsteads in central Illinois.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by RandomPlanner...
    The photos you've taken are interesting to us now, and will definately make people sad in the future, when none of these great structures are left. You can see from these photos that many of the homes still have potential - they can be saved now, but won't have that option within a year or so. (Some of those roofs look amazingly straight.)
    I also have did a photography project on abandoned farm houses several years ago (in Central NY). I'll have to take some time to digitize them and add them to the thread. Here, in the midst of the native american land claims, many of the old farms were bought up by the Indians and then fell silent - demolition by neglect. It breaks my heart to see old homes like this - many of these buildings were build MUCH more soundly than what's replacing them.
    And looking at the photos, I have to wonder what story these homes have to tell. Several of the abandoned farmhouses I went into looked as if the people had left for the day, and then just never returned. One house had toys and dishes in the kitchen. One barn had bags of seed in a wheelbarrel, with an instruction book lying open on top. Makes you wonder -- what happened??
    I share much of the same fascination that you do. When I go and take my next batch, I'm going to concentrate on taking some interior shots if the windows are open and accessable.


    This house looks like it's been abandoned since the Eisenhower Administration; still standing, no doubt, due to the metal roof. I really have no problem with a house falling into ruins by itself. Abandoned farmhouses have been a part of the North American landscape for over two centuries and seeing them in a various stages of neglect and decayed states actually adds to the ambiance of the rural landscape and heritage.

    However, when a perfectly good farmhouse is being torn down for new subdivisions or commercial sprawl, (or road widening to ease the traffic created by that sprawl) that's an absolute abomination. I see it as nothing more than outright Cultural Vandalism. These houses are being demolished (and burned) at unprecendeted rates around Toledo, all for the neverending insatiable demand for new housing and new roads.
    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 27 Sep 2005 at 1:39 PM.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    I don't like looking at those pictures... they make me feel really depressed. It reminds me of visiting Oklahoma when I was a kid and all the loneliness one could feel being in those old farming towns. I would completely go insane in a place like that.... *shudder*.

    Beautiful pictures, though.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    I don't like looking at those pictures... they make me feel really depressed. It reminds me of visiting Oklahoma when I was a kid and all the loneliness one could feel being in those old farming towns. I would completely go insane in a place like that.... *shudder*.

    Beautiful pictures, though.
    I was in the Panhandle of Oklahoma (and Texas) about nine years ago, near Boise City. It was one of the most lonely, desolate areas I had ever seen in my life...quite fascinating really. In the Rita Blanca National Grassland, I saw several abandoned farmsteads that looked like they'd been abandoned since the Great Depression.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat
    I was in the Panhandle of Oklahoma (and Texas) about nine years ago, near Boise City. It was one of the most lonely, desolate areas I had ever seen in my life...quite fascinating really. In the Rita Blanca National Grassland, I saw several abandoned farmsteads that looked like they'd been abandoned since the Great Depression.
    Yes, I'll do anything to avoid driving through the panhandle of Texas.... it will make you want to hang yourself. You'll see ONE tree that's miles down the road. You will eventually pass it, then you'll see it for miles in your rearview mirror..... very exciting.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    This really is a great thread.

    There's an old abandoned c. 1800s farmhouse that my husband and I pass on our way to his mother's house. Every time we pass it, we both sigh and look at each other... wishing we could buy it and fix it up. I don't know how long the building will last, structurally. The area where it's located is somewhat depressed, though, and I don't foresee the farmhouse being demolished for new development.

  22. #22

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    Great thread! I love old farm houses and barns. Northwest Ohio and northern Indiana seem to have a particularly fine vernacular tradition. I even photographed an old barn (in pristine condition. This farm was NOT a failing operation in any way) when driving along the Maumee River earlier this month.

    My town of residence (Vacaville, CA) has many examples of old agrarian properties now surrounded by newer housing. There is an especially fine Colonial Revival property (maybe 1920?) about a mile from me-difficult to photograph well because it is so surrounded by lush, overgrown farmyard vegetation.

  23. #23
    spokanite's avatar
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    Last fall I visited my Great Grandfather's homestead in Northern Idaho. Nobody in my family, myself included, had been there in over thirty years and everyone kind of forgot where it was. I got some directions from my aunt and after a number of attempts my girlfriend and I found it. It was so incredible to visit this place for the first time. This place is fairly remote now; about a thirty minute walk to the nearest main road, so nobody goes up there much. My Great Grandfather built it in around 1919 and was last used as a home in the 1950s I later found out.

    The first two pictures are how the house looked in 1970.



    The next pictures are from the same angles but 34 years later.




  24. #24
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Wonderful photographs. Related topic: I had a photo class in high school in which the topic for the week was barns. Mine were all abandoned. Damn, I wish I had those pics (I'll call my mom). I earned an 'A' on that assignment.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    Its true what they say: A picture tells a thousand words. You can actually just sit and study those pictures and almost begin to experience the battles they have endured – the bitter cold winters, gusting winds, and thrashing rains…and that is just the exterior. Think of the stories, the lives, the triumphs, and disappointments that were staged within its walls. Now wake up…and picture what is replacing them.

    Those are great pics. Some of them are so intriguing they could be used as sets for horror flicks or a Tim Burton spook story.

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